To compare resistance to small hive beetles (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) between Russian and commercial Italian honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae), the numbers of invading beetles, their population levels through time and small hive beetle reproduction inside the colonies were monitored. We found that the genotype of queens introduced into nucleus colonies had no immediate effect on small hive beetle invasion. However, the influence of honey bee stock on small hive beetle invasion was pronounced once test bees populated the hives. In colonies deliberately freed from small hive beetle during each observation period, the average number of invading beetles was higher in the Italian colonies (29 ± 5 beetles) than in the Russian honey bee colonies (16 ± 3 beetles). A similar trend was observed in colonies that were allowed to be freely colonized by beetles throughout the experimental period (Italian, 11.46 ± 1.35; Russian, 5.21 ± 0.66 beetles). A linear regression analysis showed no relationships between the number of beetles in the colonies and adult bee population (r2 = 0.1034, P = 0.297), brood produced (r2 = 0.1488, P = 0.132), or amount of pollen (r2 = 0.1036, P = 0.295). There were more Italian colonies that supported small hive beetle reproduction than Russian colonies. Regardless of stock, the use of entrance reducers had a significant effect on the average number of small hive beetle (with reducer, 16 ± 3; without reducer, 27 ± 5 beetles). However, there was no effect on bee population (with reducer, 13.20 ± 0.71; without reducer, 14.60 ± 0.70 frames) or brood production (with reducer, 6.12 ± 0.30; without reducer, 6.44 ± 0.34 frames). Overall, Russian honey bees were more resistant to small hive beetle than Italian honey bees as indicated by fewer invading beetles, lower small hive beetle population through time, and lesser reproduction.
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Vol. 102 • No. 1